Many academics object to Koch grants but not government grants. As far as I can tell, the objections to the former apply with equal or greater force to the latter. Consider two:
1) The Kochs have committed injustices and accepting Koch money makes you complicit in those injustices, even if the funded project is wholly unrelated to them.
But of course the government has committed injustices; indeed, injustices far graver than anything the Kochs have been accused of (e.g. murdering people daily). Furthermore, most of what people find objectionable about the Kochs is their lobbying efforts. Yet the government should also bear some responsibility for seeking and accepting the influence of Koch money in that case. If you accept money as part of your murder for hire business, you are at least as morally blameworthy as the buyer.
Freiman’s argument overlooks one relevant possibility*: Suppose that both government and the Kochs have committed serious injustices. What distinguishes them is that government gets its funding primarily through taxation, that is, by force; the Charles Koch Foundation generally does not. Given this, a recipient of government funding has already been forced to pay into the revenue stream that funds her grant; a recipient of Koch funding has not. Put somewhat differently, taxation is constitutive of, and compounds, the injustice of government injustice. Government doesn’t just commit injustice (though it does); it performs unjust acts (full stop), and then forces both citizens and non-citizens to pay for the injustice it commits, thereby committing a second, second-order injustice. In general, Koch-type injustices exemplify the first, not the second type of injustice.
Suppose that injustice demands compensation, and that coercive injustice can be met with acts of defensive or compensatory counter-force. If so, it’s open to the recipient of government funding to accept it as compensation for injustices done to the recipient. That’s not (generally) true of recipients of Koch funding. Special cases aside, Koch isn’t forcing anyone to fund injustice. So it would be inappropriate to accept Koch money as compensation for such injustices. But government certainly is forcing everyone within its domain to pay for injustice. In taking government money, the recipient is making a reasonable attempt to take back (a small part of) what was coercively taken from her–and not just taken from her, but taken for nefarious ends. One couldn’t accept Koch funding on morally comparable grounds.
It’s not clear to me how many people actually do accept government funding as rectification for past injustices. And if you did, it seems to me that you’d be obliged to do so in good faith: you could permissibly take the money as compensation only if you were willing to say in public that you were taking it for that reason. But assuming the right motivation and follow-through by the would-be recipient, the distinction between government grants and Koch grants is there, as is the distinctive reason for taking the former.
I don’t mean to suggest, incidentally, that the “argument from compensation” is an all-things-considered argument in favor of accepting grant money from the government. Personally, I try to steer clear of both government and Koch funding. But that’s a complex matter we needn’t discuss here. All I mean to suggest is that the argument from compensation meets Freiman’s challenge head-on: it differentiates the one kind of funding from the other, and provides a plausible (if defeasible) reason for accepting the one but not the other. That’s all my argument needs, and why his argument fails.
*To the best of my knowledge, a version of the argument for reparations (as stated in the post) was first made by Ayn Rand, in her essay “The Question of Scholarships,” reprinted in The Voice of Reason. Rand aside, Robert Nozick famously argues for reparations for past injustices in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, and, also (less famously) for compensation for preventive detention by government. I’ve discussed Nozick’s arguments here, and here, and by implication, here and here.
As Roderick Long points out in the comments of one of the preceding posts, Murray Rothbard makes arguments for reparations as well. It’s not clear to me whether Rothbard would accept the reasoning I present above. As Roderick puts it:
See also Rothbard’s “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle” in the 15 June 1969 issue of Libertarian Forum, where he discusses how to apply principles of restitution to state universities and to the military-industrial complex. (And the other two pieces in that issue, one by Rothbard and one by Hess, are also relevant.)
Rothbard’s approach is not precisely the same as Nozick’s, but it can certainly be used equally to make a case for reparations.
(For related issues, see Carl Watner on Indian land claims.)